Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


"In memory of Rev. Jesse Dodson; born November 22, 1752; died November 22, 1843. A minister of the gospel sixty years." (Tombstone record, Eastanallee Church.)

The deceased was born in Halifax County, Va. His first settlement in Tennessee was in Claiborne County. From there he went to Middle Tennessee. In 1819 he came to the Hiwassee Purchase, making a settlement in McMinn County, a few months before the county was "erected." On the Eastanallee is a house still standing, I believe, built ninety-eight years ago by Jesse Dodson.

Soon after his settlement in the Hiwassee district he began pioneer work. He and seven others constituted themselves into the Eastanallee Church. He and Silas Witt organized New Hopewell. He and James Courtney founded the Hiwassee Church. Salem Church was organized by him and Richard Wilson, while he and John Short were co-founders of the Friendship Church. He was preacher to and pastor of these and other churches for many years.

He was of Welsh extraction and had the Welsh fire. He was not trained to methodical sermonizing or systematic exposition of Scripture, but was earnest and fervent in exhortation, and was successful in revivals.

Elder Dodson owned 300 acres of land in the heart of Eastanallee valley, and ten negroes, whom he "freed," it is said, after the death of his wife (by whom he came into possession of them), giving as his reason that he had "concluded that a bill of sale of negroes in his pocket would be a bad passport at the gate of Heaven."

His wife was a Miss Ruth Johnson, of South Carolina, of a well-to-do. family, but the date of his marriage and other family and ministerial records have perished, were washed away or destroyed, it is thought, by the high waters of the Eastanallee in the year 1875.

He lived to preach and exhort sinners to repentance about sixty-one years, and on his 91st birthday died in the triumph of a living faith.

Burnett, J .J.  Sketches of  Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers.  Nashville, Tenn.:  Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.


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